Walt Disney World has announced that Annual Passes will be brought back and they will resume sales on September 8th. The new passes have undergone several changes from when they were last available in 2020 and are broken into different tiers. In this post, we’ll cover the details of the new Annual Passholder program before giving our commentary on the changes at the end of the post.
For the last year and a half, Disney World has only offered renewals on Annual Passes to those that had them before the shutdown. New AP’s were not for sale unless under a very special set of circumstances. With Disneyland recently adding in an Annual Pass program, it was only a matter of time before WDW joined the fray and here we are. Here are some highlights of what the new Passholder program offers:
- Hold More Park Reservations: Depending on their pass type, Passholders may now hold up to five Disney Park Pass reservations at a time. There will also be “bonus reservations” to the calendar from time to time, so Passholders can make an additional park reservation without it counting against their applicable reservation hold limit. Plus, when Passholders stay at Disney Resort hotels or other select hotels, they will also be eligible to make theme park reservations for each day of their stay – in addition to the reservations you can hold based on your pass type!
- Customize Your Pass: Choose different add-on options based on your preferences – from the Water Park and Sports option to Disney PhotoPass downloads. These add-on options will be available for purchase with any of the four new passes.
- Access a New Integrated Calendar: Planning will be easier with enhancements to Disney’s reservation system, including a new integrated calendar that lets Passholders quickly see blockout dates for each pass type, view available days and make, modify or cancel a reservation all in one place.
- Enjoy Passholder Perks: Passes will continue to offer benefits including the Park Hopper option, standard theme park parking and discounts on merchandise and dining. There will be a few special surprises throughout the 50th anniversary celebration!
Here’s a look at the pricing for each pass and what’s included with the different tiers:
Blockout dates range with the different passes. The bottom tiered pass (Pixie Dust Pass – what a terrible name) has every weekend blocked out along with major holiday weeks and some days in the summer. The Pirate Pass has holiday weekends blocked out as well as some summer dates and Christmas time. Disney’s Sorcerers Pass only has some time around Christmas and Thanksgiving blocked out and, finally, Incredi-Pass has no blockout dates at all.
If you are a current Passholder, you may continue to use your Annual Pass as you do today – when it is time for you to renew, you will be able to renew into one of the new passes). Beginning Sept. 8, 2021, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum Plus Annual Passholders will also be able to hold more reservations at a time!
That’s most of the details, if you have specific questions about any of this then let us know in the comments and we’ll get back to you! Now, for the commentary.
My initial reaction to the Annual Pass Program is disappointment in the new prices. Every comparable pass has gone up in price over what it was 18 months ago while being stripped of some of the perks like Water Parks and PhotoPass. Of course, those are now available as an add-on for an extra cost. With only the highest tier available to out-of-state non-DVC members, there is some sticker shock involved when seeing the $1,299 price tag!
While the prices have increased, reservations are still needed. While some may have assumed that Disney would drop the park reservation requirement once the parks were back to full (or nearly 100%) capacity, it seems as if they’re here to stay. That said, I wouldn’t worry too much about getting reservations on most days. Yes, some of the high crowd times may wind up being a tough reservation to score but overall, reserving a day won’t be too tough. It’s another step in planning, but I don’t think having to make theme park reservations should be much of a deterrent in whether or not you buy an Annual Pass.
It’s interesting to see that Disney has added the perk of being able to hold more reservations if you’re staying at an on-site hotel. For the last few years, staying on-site has seen a decrease in value and may not have been worth it with such high price tags. This may be the first step in Disney trying to bring back more incentive to staying at one of their own hotels. As I just mentioned, I’m not sure that getting extra park reservations will really matter, as I don’t see many dates running out of space especially once we’re out of the 50th anniversary in October.
Ultimately, it’s good to have Annual Passes offered again at Walt Disney World. I never want to see price increases and for out-of-staters, you’ll definitely need to crunch the numbers to see if the AP is worth it to you. From a quick calculation standpoint, guests will probably need to go on 3 separate trips to make that AP worth the cost. I know for some that’s no problem at all but others it’s a tall task. The other tiers are far more affordable and I would expect the Sorcerers Pass to become the most popular, seeing how it’s available to DVC members as well as Florida residents.
Walt Disney World doesn’t rely on the Annual Pass program as much as Disneyland Resort although there is some shift there with so many people moving to Florida. With that in mind, along with offering four parks to two, the resort can get away with increasing the price pretty easily. The die-hards will likely buy their passes while others will plan a once a year trip. For now, there are still layers to peel off of this release since park reservations are still needed, a pandemic still carries on and tourism is somewhat up in the air.
What do you think of the release of these Annual Passes? Let us know your thoughts, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our Disney World Trip Planning Guide to help you out. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!